If my readers recall, I did a post about Volcanoes in Georgia, specifically Pigeon Mountain. After a number of comments from geologists, I learned that it wasn’t a volcano. However, I still wanted to visit the mountain and see things for myself. Although I didn’t doubt the experts, it’s always good to verify information. I also like to learn!
Imagine my surprise when I received a comment from Tennessee Heartwood telling me that they planned an excursion with a geologist to visit Pigeon Mountain. What is Tennessee Heartwood? It’s a 501c3 organization dedicated to the preservation of Tennessee public lands heritage. Their efforts include the Cherokee National Forest and Land Between the Lakes NRA. The Cherokee National Forest is a huge forest tract in Tennessee that joins other national forests in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia (the Chattahoochee National Forest).
Anyway, I jumped at the chance to see the mountain and talked my brother into going with me. We got up early and hit the road since it’s about a 2 and a half hour drive to get there from our part of Georgia. We had a great time riding through the mountains and seeing the dawn break. Beautiful drive! I can truthfully say there are some wide open spaces between Gainesville, GA and the Pigeon Mountain Grill just outside of Lafayette, GA!
We joined the rest of the group and discovered we couldn’t actually go on the mountain since we didn’t have either a hunting or fishing license. it turns out that Pigeon Mountain is a Georgia Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and you can’t visit it without one of the licenses. Nonetheless, we went all around the mountain and thoroughly enjoyed our discussions with our geologist tour guide Jay. Jay grew up around Pigeon Mountain and was a wealth of knowledge about the different geologic periods. In addition, he explained in simple terms and how the formed. And yes, he confirmed that Pigeon Mountain isn’t volcanic.
Pigeon Mountain is part of the Cumberland Plateau and there is a ton of limestone up there. The limestone erosion caused the deep pits (like Ellison’s Cave and Petty John’s Cave) in the mountain. If you’re familiar with sinkholes in Florida, the process is similar. All told, it was an entertaining and educational day. We found fossils, learned about chert (which can be fashioned into tools), sandstone, and limestone. We also got to see first hand evidence of the different geologic periods present in the area.
Although I confirmed first hand that Pigeon Mountain wasn’t volcanic, I was still disappointed. A bigger disappointment was that there weren’t any gemstones native to the area. Fun as it was to visit, I’ll stick to my Northeast Georgia Mountains and hunt gemstones and prospect for gold!
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